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Row over plan to close regional newspapers’ archives

A newspaper library serving a regional daily and its sister weeklies is set to be closed and its collection moved across the country, according to the National Union of Journalists.

The union claims that Trinity Mirror plans to shut its picture archive collection which serves the Liverpool Echo, Liverpool Post and weekly titles across Merseyside and transfer its contents to Watford, putting one union member who works as a librarian at risk of redundancy.

It says the archives, which have been in their present location since the early 1970s, “belong to the city and the journalists who serve it” and are an important source for reporters putting together features and stories, which are not always available in a digital format.

It is believed that the collection of news and sports photographs will now be moved to the company’s print works in Watford, more than 150 miles away.

Chris Morley, Northern and Midlands NUJ organiser, said: “The archives that Trinity Mirror wishes to rip out of the Merseyside community are precious, not just to the people of Liverpool, but also in their own right.

“They are a tremendous asset built up from the industry of generations of photographers and reporters and should be seen as a community asset to be treasured, not just a commercial tool to be exploited.

“This proposal by Trinity Mirror comes at a crucial time when the company is looking to expand its operations involving heritage content on Merseyside.

“Dumping all the archives in Watford would limit this type of work and will be frustrating for our members trying to carry it out.”

Trinity Mirror had not responded to requests for a comment at the time of publication.

June 20 Update:  Trinity Mirror has since announced that the Liverpool proposal is part of a much wide nationwide project to transfer all its regional newspaper archives to Watford, creating what it believes will be one of the biggest photographic archives in the world.

The collection will be digitised and used as a shared resource for journalists across the group.

Although all of the regional newspaper picture archives will transfer to the new centre, they will be catalogued and maintained there as separate entities.

A total of 11 non-editorial jobs are potentially at risk as a result of the plan, although eight new roles are being created.


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  • June 19, 2013 at 8:56 am

    The Govt or national archive should step in here. The regional press companies have bigger problems than what to do with their archive. A third party is needed to protect what around the country is an amazing collective archive. TM, NQ JP etc cannot be trusted to look after it.

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  • June 19, 2013 at 11:13 am

    The city council should find these archives a space in a local museum or library, where they can be easily accessed by anyone in years to come doing the inevitable flashback supplement. Having them in Watford – unless they employ someone there to digitise the lot, which is unlikely unless they have been much more carefully captioned than is usual – will be worse than useless. And what happens when TM decide they don’t want them there any more, because they need the space, or they’re scrapping print, or moving?

    Many newspapers binned their photo AND cuttings archives when they went digital in the 80s/90s, and then threw out their neg files because they no longer had their darkrooms – a crime against heritage.

    Sometimes it took a concerted campaign by local people or members of staff to save them, and in one case I know of the local library came to the rescue & put all the positive archives on microfiche.

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